SR 530 Flooding and Mudslide March 2014

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SR 530 Flooding and Mudslide March 2014

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SR 530 Flooding and Mudslide March 2014

Snohomish County Overview



This is contains personal observations and is not an official County statement

17 Lawsuits filed by May 15

Countless Freedom of Information Act Requests Filed starting during the eventFirst lesson learned – Document Everything!If you think you have enough, you don’t



10:37 a.m. March 22 a landslide impacted the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, devastated the Steelhead Haven community and flooded adjacent properties and homes.


debris dam locked the river and backed up water creating a “lake”.

45 homes were impacted36 destroyed9 floodedSR 530 was impassible and partially destroyed.

SR 530 Incident



14 survivors were airlifted within hours of the disaster

43 victims were

reported as missing

All were found and identifiedHundreds of responders and community members continue to deal with the emotional and social impacts of the disasterHuman Impact


Before and After


North Fork Stillaguamish River:

Slide blocked river channel & caused upstream flooding

River carved its own channel through slide debris

Steps taken to help search & recovery efforts:

Channel excavation to improve river flows

Temporary berm & pumps installed to remove water

Multi-agency Task Force will review short/long term options for river


Multiple incidents in one

Search, rescue, flooding, mass casualty, mass fatality, evacuation, infrastructure failure, missing persons, mental health, volunteers, donations, etc…

Remote location with limited roadways

Depth and type of debris materialWeatherPublic/media expectationsWanted to know everything immediatelyDidn’t comprehend the process or time involved




Local, County, State, Federal, Non Profits, NGOs, and the community


Local, County, State, Federal, NGOs, and Non ProfitsThe community Trained, untrained, contractors, volunteers, families, neighbors, everyone…

Partners Supporting



Field search efforts extended 37 days

Primarily efforts to find and recover victims

extremely successful

extremely demandingEOC operations continued another week before scaling back to limited operationsLong Term Recovery started on day 10 of the incident and will continue for yearsA Sustained Effort


Sno Co Sheriff’s Office

First on scene, last to


Sheriff specialized resources worked throughout the incidentIncident Command AssistanceAir OperationsSearch Operations

Patrol Operations

Marine and Dive Operations

Missing Persons

Evidence Unit

Tracking of valuable personal property recovered on site

Reserve Deputies


ubject matter experts

Mapping, Search support teams

Continues to provide site support through patrol and recovery efforts throughout the clean up and recovery


Activated the Emergency Operations Center within hours of the incident

Initial focus was on notification of

secondary dangers (ex

flooding/evacuation) and establishing situational awareness

Focus switched to Strategic Policy and Coordination of response support

Initiated transition to recovery by week 2 of the



a central location for

coordination of efforts including policy and recovery.


resource support to


responders, the impacted

communities, multiple

local and state Incident Management Teams, and




communications networks

for exchange of information between

various response entities at different levels of government

(federal, state, county, and locals).Coordinating the complex documentation of all costs and expenditures for the incident, providing a mechanism by which Snohomish County can seek appropriate federal reimbursement of those costs.




Joint Information

System (JIC/JIS)

Social media (Twitter, Facebook) used immediately to disseminate critical information early in the incident. Continues to be a main tool for distributing 530 Slide information. #


Joint Information Center(JIC)

established near incident command in Arlington; satellite PIO

station established

in Darrington to meet specific needs of this community cut off by the


Subject matter experts brought in to work with media on specific issues/areas of


Media granted escorted visits to site to gather information and grasp magnitude of


Dozens of PIOs from numerous Puget Sound agencies participated in

the Joint Information System(JIS).


Managed transportation of remains

Coordinated identifying missing persons and the collection of


data100% of decedents located were scientifically identified within a week, some within just a few hours, primarily by dental records or DNAWorked diligently with families to keep them informed

Supported by neighboring ME Offices, Air Nat’l Guard,


Co Sheriff’s Office, WSP Lab, forensic odontologist and many other agencies

Medical Examiner


Responded throughout the incident

Opened Mt. Loop Highway as alternate route for the public

Supported the opening of alternate route for emergency workers

Strategic planning with various agencies to drain floodwater from specific areas for search and recovery effortsAssisted in the monitoring of slope stability Participated in public outreach

Solid Waste coordination and planning for debris removal

Continue to coordinate with WSDOT and various agencies to rebuild SR530, complete the Debris Removal contract, and rebuild White Horse Trail with Parks Department

Public Works


Human Services

Navigators, in collaboration with Disaster Case Managers, are working directly with

impacted families to provide a

single point of coordination for support of unmet needs.Mental Health professionals

are providing

services for children in schools and for adults in a community setting.


Services staff

are brokering

resources and services to address the needs of medically fragile individuals.


Incident Stress Management team provides support to incident responders.


Task Force

was established

to identify and address community needs through government and non-profit agency collaboration.

Personal Belonging Reunification Program was established to manage items recovered from the slide area and return them to survivors, victims’ families, and property owners.


Activated Disaster Medical Coordination Center and contacted area hospitals to confirm survivor admissions

Activated Medical Reserve Corp volunteers to support Emergency Management Call Center

Monitored responder health and safety

Assured community access to medical care Supported veterinary services for response animals (search dogs) and managed animal remains that were recoveredProvided guidance to homeowners about cleaning flooded houses and repairing septic systems

Coordinated well testing

Snohomish County Health District


Long-Term Recovery


eam established on week two of the incident to focus on long-term recovery priorities

Opening of SR 530Housing for displaced residentsMental Health needs

Debris clean up

Economic development

River management

Property disposition

Memorial development



Loss of life was limited to initial incident

Community (professional and volunteer) came together for one mission

Political support brought resourcesPartners worked together to support the needs of the communityEstablishing human services resource centersCoordination of effortsRe-establishing SR 530


Lessons Learned

Partnerships matter

Regional support is critical

Use of established process/tools allowed for joint efforts (ex Incident Command forms)Homeland Security funded resources were valuable all-hazard assetsHelicopterRadio cacheCommunication vans

Medical Reserve Corps


Typical Resources

Typical daily deployment was nearly 1000 people!


tactical Personnel are assigned (includes community volunteers and Nat’l Guard team members)


Overhead Personnel, 19 FEMA IST personnel (not including 8 cache drivers


13 Agency Liaison



: 2 Type 1 US&R Task Force, 6 National Guard SAR Teams, 3 Rescue Boats, 2




units, 25 K-9 Search Teams, 2 Tech Rescue Teams, 4 Engines, 2 ALS Ambulances,


BLS Ambulances, 71 Heavy Equipment, 15 Law Enforcement, 2 National Guard FSR Teams, 2 National



Teams, 1 CISM (15 Members)



Amateur Radio Role

Hams operated both amateur and public safety radios

Snohomish ACS/ARES was eyes and ears of the EOC

Delivered and staffed command vehicle in


Amateur radio supplemented limited channel capacity in


ARES member operated radios at Arlington Air Base

Amateur operators fabricated, maintained and delivered equipment to field units

ESCA RACES provided communications in Red Cross shelters



Snohomish EOC has six operating

stations with laptops and radios

covering nearly every band and


Mobile Command Posts include

VHF, 800 radios and an amateur radio station

Portable radio kits



anywhere and


Arlington air base


Public Safety Comms

All on 800MHz, both trunked and


(ICALL/ITACs)Trunked channels worked but limited capacity in Darrington

and outside radios all had to be programmed and provisioned

Each radio needs an incident operations zone (




caused issues even on



Not enough 800 radios around to cover volunteers, etc.

There is no list of COMLs in the state so IMT came in and no one contacted us

Not enough COMLs in Snohomish County (only 4




Lessons Learned –


Publish job descriptions (IAP, ICS205, etc.) for staff to minimize debrief time and allow people to prep

Via email,




, etc.

Plan for outside assistance and document all processes and necessary info in station manuals

Expect 10% - 25% participation

VERY basic info is important – bathroom location, etc.

Simplify scheduling (shared document)

Have multiple schedulers, perhaps outsource to another group


Radios, battery packs, antennas, coaxes, adapters, laptops, etc.


Lessons Learned – Staff

Sign up for shifts! They’re NEVER convenient

Sit in on other shifts for training

If you can’t take a whole shift, take beginning or


Ask questions of other operators, rather than command

You may be the trainer – be prepared

Outside help will know nothing of your operations

Take any job you have time to accomplish

Actively look for other tasks

Document everything for debrief of next operator

Your primary job may be the radio but other things can be done and there are always needs

We do that!


Be flexible!

We didn’t use the Sharepoint system we spent years building and training on. Paper sucks.

Large EOC staff was almost entirely “foreign”

We didn’t run a net for scheduling because it was too time-consuming negotiating over the air for shifts. This caused some frustration because this is the way we trained.Tactical callsigns were inconsistent and things kept moving (command posts, landing zones, etc).

Watch everyone for signs of stress, fatigue, dehydration, etc.

Be a facilitator. Make things work. Be a member of the team.



Huge Success!

Ten days of 24 hour shifts was tiring and it was continuing

How do we recruit and integrate members from other teams?

The operation was not trivial and we have unique equipmentHow do we get “the good ones?”We put out the call to Region 1 and Seattle ACS team leads

Some went broadly, some were targeted at individuals

We got “the good ones” (YMMV)

Toward the end about half the staff were out of county

Many thanked us for letting them participate!

We can’t thank them enough for their support!





victims recovered!

Activation lasted 37 days

37 radio operators staffed 160 shifts

No communications failures, both command vehicles deployed

Additional unused infrastructure available

Staff was regularly thanked by DEM staff, Executive


and Governor Inslee

Integration of volunteers with paid staff at many levels

Amazing support from local vendors and even Motorola



Ideal Outcomes

Better documentation and processes

Equipment holes filled

More flexible staffOngoing desire for trainingAUXCOM, COML, ACES, etc.We just trained 28 people on the command vehicles in JanuaryCompletion of the regional communications plan we started the in the preceding weeks

Statewide COML/COMT registration and directory



Let’s Talk

Our processes worked pretty well

This event was substantially different that what we trained for with all the other agencies involved

We already have new plansSome lessons have already been implementedThink and plan REGIONALLY!

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